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New Perspectives on Tradition and Transformation
Volume Editors: Albert Geljon and Nienke Vos
Based on the paradigmatic shift in both liturgical and ritual studies, this multidisciplinary volume presents a collection of case studies on rituals in the early Christian world. After a methodological discussion of the new paradigm, it shows how emblematic Christian rituals were influenced by their Greco-Roman and Jewish contexts, undergoing multiple transformations, while themselves affecting developments both within and outside Christianity. Notably, parallel traditions in Judaism and Islam are included in the discussion, highlighting the importance of ongoing reception history. Focusing on the dynamic character of rituals, the new perspectives on ritual traditions pursued here relate to the expanding source material, both textual and material, as well as the development of recent interdisciplinary approaches, including the cognitive science of religion.
Volume Editors: René Brouwer and Emmanuele Vimercati
This volume, edited by René Brouwer and Emmanuele Vimercati, deals with the debate about fate, providence and free will in the early Imperial age. This debate is rekindled in the 1st century CE during emperor Augustus’ rule and ends in the 3rd century CE with Plotinus and Origen, when the different positions in the debate were more or less fully developed. The book aims to show how in this period the notions of fate, providence and freedom were developed and debated, not only within and between the main philosophical schools, that is Stoicism, Aristotelianism, and Platonism, but also in the interaction with other, “religious” movements, here understood in the general sense of groups of people sharing beliefs in and worship of (a) superhuman controlling power(s), such as Gnosticism, Hermetism as well as Judaism and Christianity.
Providence, Dualism, and Will in Later Greek and Early Christian Philosophy
Author: Dylan M. Burns
Is God involved? Why do bad things happen to good people? What is up to us? These questions were explored in Mediterranean antiquity with reference to ‘providence’ ( pronoia). In Did God Care? Dylan Burns offers the first comprehensive survey of providence in ancient philosophy that brings together the most important Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac sources, from Plato to Plotinus and the Gnostics.

Burns demonstrates how the philosophical problems encompassed by providence transformed in the first centuries CE, yielding influential notions about divine care, evil, creation, omniscience, fate, and free will that remain with us today. These transformations were not independent developments of ‘Pagan philosophy’ and ‘Christian theology,’ but include fruits of mutually influential engagement between Hellenic and Christian philosophers.
Volume Editors: Christa Gray and James Corke-Webster
The Hagiographical Experiment: Developing Discourses of Sainthood throws fresh light on narratives about Christian holy men and women from Late Antiquity to Byzantium. Rather than focusing on the relationship between story and reality, it asks what literary choices authors made in depicting their heroes and heroines: how they positioned the narrator, how they responded to existing texts, how they utilised or transcended genre conventions for their own purposes, and how they sought to relate to their audiences. The literary focus of the chapters assembled here showcases the diversity of hagiographical texts written in Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac, as well as pointing out the ongoing conversations that connect them. By asking these questions of this diverse group of texts, it illuminates the literary development of hagiography in the late antique, Byzantine, and medieval periods.
Volume Editors: Stephen Mitchell and Philipp Pilhofer
This volume is part of the Berlin Topoi project re-examing the early Christian history of Asia Minor, Greece and the South Balkans, and is concerned with the emergence of Christianity in Asia Minor and in Cyprus. Five essays focus on the east Anatolian provinces, including a comprehensive evaluation of early Christianity in Cappadocia, a comparative study of the Christian poetry of Gregory of Nazianzus and his anonymous epigraphic contemporaries and three essays which pay special attention to the hagiography of Cappadocia and Armenia Minor. The remaining essays include a new analysis of the role of Constantinople in episcopal elections across Asia Minor, a detailed appraisal of the archaeological evidence from Sagalassus in Pisidia, a discussion of the significance of inscriptions in Carian sanctuaries through late antiquity, and a survey of Christian inscriptions from Cyprus.
In The Shepherd of Hermas and the Pauline Legacy, Jonathan E. Soyars traces the influence of Pauline literary traditions upon one of the most widely attested and influential apocalyptic texts from early Christianity. Scholarship largely considers Hermas to have known very little about Pauline letters, but by looking beyond verbatim quotations Soyars discovers extensive evidence of his adoption, adaptation, and synthesis of identifiable Pauline material in the Visions, Mandates, and Similitudes sections. Hermas emerges as a Pauline interpreter who creatively engages topics and themes developed within and across the Pauline letters through time. These results reconnect the Shepherd with early Paulinism and extend reconstructions of the sphere of Pauline influence in the second century C.E.
Basil and Origen on Genesis 1 and Cosmology
Author: Adam Rasmussen
In Genesis and Cosmos Adam Rasmussen examines how Basil and Origen addressed scientific problems in their interpretations of Genesis 1. For the first time, he offers an in-depth analysis of Basil’s thinking on three problems in Scripture-and-science: the nature of matter, the super-heavenly water, and astrology. Both theologians worked from the same fundamental perspective that science is the “servant” of Christianity, useful yet subordinate. Rasmussen convincingly shows how Basil used Origen’s writings to construct his own solutions. Only on the question of the water does Basil break with Origen, who allegorized the water. Rasmussen demonstrates how they sought to integrate science and Scripture and thus remain instructive for those engaged in the dialogue between religion and science today.
In the midst of academic debates about the utility of the term “magic” and the cultural meaning of ancient words like mageia or khesheph, this Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic seeks to advance the discussion by separating out three topics essential to the very idea of magic. The three major sections of this volume address (1) indigenous terminologies for ambiguous or illicit ritual in antiquity; (2) the ancient texts, manuals, and artifacts commonly designated “magical” or used to represent ancient magic; and (3) a series of contexts, from the written word to materiality itself, to which the term “magic” might usefully pertain.

The individual essays in this volume cover most of Mediterranean and Near Eastern antiquity, with essays by both established and emergent scholars of ancient religions.

In a burgeoning field of “magic studies” trying both to preserve and to justify critically the category itself, this volume brings new clarity and provocative insights. This will be an indispensable resource to all interested in magic in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, ancient Greece and Rome, Early Christianity and Judaism, Egypt through the Christian period, and also comparative and critical theory.

Contributors are: Magali Bailliot, Gideon Bohak, Véronique Dasen, Albert de Jong, Jacco Dieleman, Esther Eidinow, David Frankfurter, Fritz Graf, Yuval Harari, Naomi Janowitz, Sarah Iles Johnston, Roy D. Kotansky, Arpad M. Nagy, Daniel Schwemer, Joseph E. Sanzo, Jacques van der Vliet, Andrew Wilburn.
Sortilege—the making of decisions by casting lots—was widely practiced in the Mediterranean world during the period known as late antiquity, between the third and eighth centuries CE. In My Lots are in Thy Hands: Sortilege and its Practitioners in Late Antiquity, AnneMarie Luijendijk and William Klingshirn have collected fourteen essays that examine late antique lot divination, especially but not exclusively through texts preserved in Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac. Employing the overlapping perspectives of religious studies, classics, anthropology, economics, and history, contributors study a variety of topics, including the hermeneutics and operations of divinatory texts, the importance of diviners and their instruments, and the place of faith and doubt in the search for hidden order in a seemingly random world.
Sacred Thresholds. The Door to the Sanctuary in Late Antiquity offers a far-reaching account of boundaries within pagan and Christian sanctuaries: gateways in a precinct, outer doors of a temple or church, inner doors of a cella. The study of these liminal spaces within Late Antiquity – itself a key period of transition during the spread of Christianity, when cultural paradigms were redefined – demands an approach that is both interdisciplinary and diachronic. Emilie van Opstall brings together both upcoming and noted scholars of Greek and Latin literature and epigraphy, archaeology, art history, philosophy, and religion to discuss the experience of those who crossed from the worldly to the divine, both physically and symbolically. What did this passage from the profane to the sacred mean to them, on a sensory, emotive and intellectual level? Who was excluded, and who was admitted? The articles each offer a unique perspective on pagan and Christian sanctuary doors in the Late Antique Mediterranean.